Fired for the second time in less than a year. Feeling lost.

Background:

I've struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. I barely graduated from an ivy with a 3.0 GPA. In college, I really sucked at interviewing and my GPA did not help. I didn't get a summer analyst role but was hired basically as a personal assistant to a former AM guy who was trying to build out an IB practice during my junior year.

After graduating college, I had no FT offer. After a few months of doing unpaid internships, I was able to land an internship with a small (<10 person) but mighty MM IB firm. I didn't get the return offer due to performance(1). Luckily right around then I got an offer from my old boss from college to come back and join his team as an analyst. The first few months were rough. I repeated some of the mistakes I made during my previous internship and got yelled at - a lot(2). But soon I started to incorporate certain habits (food, lifting, nofap, meditation, talk therapy) in my routine and that's when things started changing. I could focus and work smarter and push through deliverables w fewer errors. Things were starting to look good. I started getting positive feedback from the senior guys but today out of nowhere I get notified I'm being let go due to a "lack of fit". No other feedback was given(3).

Sitting here now just dazed. I question if this is the right industry for me at all. I love the job (the valuation and analysis, the exposure to business execs, the adrenaline, the feeling of doing something productive) but really not sure if I am cut out for it - especially at a shop where the hours will be worse than it was at my last firm.

All of my friends are doing IB at big shops like MS, JPM, HL (I just don't have that many friends -  I'm sure your bank deserves mention) and I'm sitting here getting axed from regional shops with much better hours. I try to not be negative about myself but maybe this isn't the right industry for me at all. I really wanted to complete an analyst program and then jump to something else. Maybe I need to do something else right now - such as ER or FP&A - and then go to B-School and then give this another shot later.

Is WFH the culprit here? Maybe it has to do with the size of the teams I've been on? I don't mean to deflect responsibility - I messed up and that's on me. But I really want to hear someone's thoughts on this before I start blindly applying again.

Anyone here been through something like this or similar? Unsure how to move forward. Long term, I like the idea of PE or VC but def don't have the notches on my belt to make the move right now. How can I get there if I can't make it through regional IB? How can I navigate past fucking so much up so early in my career?

Footnotes:

(1) My mental health was horrible at this point - I would ask silly questions, lack ownership of the deals I was staffed on, send wrong invites and turn comments poorly. Again, not an excuse but I had just started some psych meds around then which really messed with my sleep, brain and appetite. Things were horrible - I contemplated suicide a few times even got a rope from Home Depot and everything. Therapy and meds have really helped.

(2) A month or two in, they hire another analyst who was clearly more mature and confident than me - dude is crushing it

(3) This is the worst part. This is what makes me feel so helpless - how can I turn this corner if you don't give me specific feedback? How do I fix "fit" if you don't give me specific feedback?

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Comments (25)

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Aug 23, 2021 - 10:42pm

Pick yourself up and apply. No time to be sad. It could've just been reasons outside of your control. Move on, learn from your mistakes and keep going. Everyone hits obstacles in life, such early on and some later on. The people that succeed are the people that grind it out and keep going. Don't want to sound corny here, but it's really true.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 23, 2021 - 10:43pm

Sounds like you were on the right path -- you were aware of your mistakes/deficiencies, you owned them, you were working on them and you were IMPROVING. Don't let one or two callous a-holes ruin your momentum (granted, maybe they weren't a-holes -- but whatever, it wasn't a great fit, mourn and move on). You were on the upswing, continue that momentum.  Who cares if one or two guys didn't like you/want you on their team? Yeah, it hurts/sucks getting fired, but most successful people get canned at some point in their life. Plus, it sounds like you like IB... so don't give up on it. Just take a few days or a week to mourn, clear your head, and get back at it. Continue to study technicals, get your story straight where you own your deficiencies, but talk about your improvements and your strengths and start networking. It probably won't be easy, probably won't be soon, but if you're quietly confident and prepared, you're gonna crush one of your next interviews (maybe not the first one) and you'll get that third chance. In the moment, a lot of things seem bigger and more permanent than they are... just take a deep breath, slow things down and focus on what you can control: becoming more knowledgeable about the craft, getting your "story" straight that both explains your situation, acknowledges the negative but accentuates the positive and start reaching out and networking like mad. It'll happen.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 23, 2021 - 10:47pm

I really appreciate the response. I needed to read and hear that. I won't get bogged down. Thank you :) 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 23, 2021 - 10:52pm

It's true, man. When we're at work, or in a social group, and things go awry, we tend to get wrapped up in notion that "Shit, this is my world, and it's fucked." It's not. It's only a small -- or fine, maybe material -- part of your world at that moment.  And if it's not working for you, you have the power to leave it/change it/improve it. Generally in life, if you're persistent, nice to people and work hard, odds are overwhelming that things will work out. You got this.   

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 23, 2021 - 11:34pm

it sounds like you have a long history of mental instability and your best bet is working through those problems, rather than tossing yourself back into the frying pan that is IB. given your history of depression, there is no guarantee that you don't spiral back, given the recent, dramatic change in circumstances.

you need to see a therapist ASAP. suicidal ideations are nothing to gloss over - even if you think that was then and this is now.

searching for advice from interns and college students will not help you get your job back, much less get/keep yourself in a stable mental place. i hope you get the help you need - not beating your meat multiple times a day isn't a substitute for undergoing therapy. 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 23, 2021 - 11:57pm

100% I agree. I had some demons which therapy helped a lot with. Learned how to be kinder to myself. The therapist really taught me how to catch my triggers and stop myself from spiraling down like that. But you're so right - mental health is a real thing - there's no getting around seeking professional help.

I'm just in a position where I'm optimistic about the progress I've made so far but pessimistic about how much weight that progress holds. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Aug 24, 2021 - 2:58am

Agreed. Op you matter more than IB. IB will be there after you take care of yourself which it sounds like you already started. You got this. I believe in you. You graduated from an ivy with a 3.0, you worked during your depression, you are clearly strong, determined, and resourceful. Sometimes we all forget what matters. The only thing that matters OP is you and your happiness and health. 

  • VP in RE - Other
Aug 24, 2021 - 3:18am

I think there is something to sentiment that your reputation in an organisation is the most important thing. You really have to start strong for 1 year and then you will find things are a lot easier. Right now is an easy time to be out of work, lots of people got laid off and equally many companies are now hiring again. I would focus on getting a job while the market is hot again, but once you get the job, delay your start date for like 2 months. Go to Mexico for 2 weeks, see a therapist and get your mental state right pre-starting.

Aug 24, 2021 - 12:59pm

Is it possible for you to stop working completely, live with your parents, and continue going to therapy until you're ACTUALLY ready to re-enter the workforce? I think you need to rebuild the foundation of your mental health. You're not going to give improving your mental health the amount of effort it needs attempting to work in banking and you're not going to give any finance role you pursue your all while trying to improve your mental health. Message me if you have any questions. 

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Aug 25, 2021 - 6:23pm

Second this. A 6-8 month break might help immensely with your mental health, and you can take some time and think about what is next. It's a little hard to explain leaving 2 jobs in one year, and if you can honestly tell your next role you worked through these issues over a few months it can help you a lot.

I would probably tell you to stay out of IB - it destroys most people's mental health, let alone someone with preexisting issues. FP&A or another lower-stress job without huge client deliverables, long hours, and tight timelines is probably a better fit.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 6:03am

Seconding this, would really not recommend IB for anyone with mental health difficulties. Thought I could power through the job and my issues would just sort themselves out but IB has just made them worse.

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Aug 25, 2021 - 12:06am

Brotha from someone who has dealt with some mental health issues, it is not the end of the world if you want to be in finance. However, if they are serious and go untreated for too long, they can lead to the end of you working in finance. Banking was never my thing, but my depression almost cost me a long term internship while in college that was leading to a badass structured products desk and it has recently reared its ugly head and almost cost me my real job. It's not because of a lack of drive or skill, it's because frankly I wasn't/am not emotionally mature enough to deal with some issues that come with some of the personalities in finance. My bosses know I am an actual value add as a junior and decided to keep me on with a stern warning. Deal with what's important as soon as possible and don't make excuses. If you value and enjoy your spot in this industry you will get it done, I know it. PM me if you want to chat.

Aug 25, 2021 - 2:33pm

Being in a position to even realistically consider IB as a career path means you are doing better than 95% of people. So keep your chin up mate. You have value and a lot more to offer this world. Own that value, get the support you need, and come back ready to make a splash.

IB is not a great place, and being an analyst / intern is tough. I went through some stuff last year during WFH - IB can and will break most of us.

If you like the job but want it to be a bit more chill, go do M&A at one of the big 4 accounting firms or get a job in insto banking. Doesn't pay as well, but hours are good and work is similar.

Feel free to DM me if you ever just need someone to talk / vent to. You have much more to give, and I can't wait to see what happens next for you.

  • Business School in CorpFin
Aug 25, 2021 - 5:49pm

If I were you, I would try different treatments.

There are plenty of treatments available now such as TMS, CBT...and other stuff that can help such as diet, CBD and psilocybin. Mental health has also a neuro inflammation part (check for infection? tick born illnesses? auto immune disease?).

Keep faith and don't forget that it's the disease making you feel that way, not you!

Maybe seeing a functional doctor could help!

Good luck man.

Aug 25, 2021 - 5:55pm

Echo what some of the other folks said here about taking some time off (if you can). There will likely be a benefit to working with a professional to get your head right. There might also be a benefit to talking with a career counselor to figure out what you want to do. They might help you think through some other paths that incorporate the stuff you enjoy. Good luck.

Aug 25, 2021 - 9:45pm

I think it's important to take a deep breath and really take stock of your situation. You were at the verge of committing suicide - this isn't good, man. Who cares about where you work and if you are at a tier 1 shop? No one cares about this stuff but you're building it up in your mind. If I was in your shoes I would really focus on my mental health and make my career less of a priority. You can be doing A LOT of different things for work and still be happy, but I would put the entire career discussion on the back burner until you deal with your mental and emotional well being.

Aug 25, 2021 - 10:38pm

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